This past spring, Prof. Lee Smithey successfully applied with a range of partners to bring Belfast-based mural artist, David ‘Dee’ Craig, to the Tri-Colleges for a month-long residency during the fall semester 2013. Mr. Craig’s visit follows a visit by the Bogside Artists in 2008.
Mr. Craig hails from East Belfast, but he has painted murals across Northern Ireland. His work represents the ongoing transformation of conflict in Northern Ireland, which remains significantly divided and continues to struggle with its contentious and often violent past while pursuing a sustainable and peaceful future. Prof. Smithey’s application to the Creative Residencies Program noted that “the making of murals is shifting the symbolic landscape to incorporate new narratives within communities, re-articulating collective identities, and beginning to minimize the martial symbols that figured so prominently during 30 years of political conflict in Northern Ireland. Murals offer opportunities for regeneration in excluded or marginalized communities and sites for re-framing memory and identity.”
Mr. Craig represented Northern Ireland at the 41st Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. in 2007, where he painted a 30ft high mural on the National Mall depicting Belfast’s industrial history. His work has been commissioned by the Ulster Museum and numerous community organizations across Northern Ireland. In 2008, he was named among the ‘Top 40 under 40’ by the Belfast Media Group as one of “The next wave of Northern Ireland’s leaders…the post ceasefire generation, which, having inherited the peace process, now want to forge a prosperity process.”
The residency will be funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation:
Supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Tri-College Creative Residencies Program encourages Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore faculty from across the three divisions-natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities-to design and implement arts residencies in conjunction with their curricular and scholarly agendas. The program takes as its primary goal the broad integration of the arts through small liberal arts college curricula, seeking particularly to stimulate the creation and enhancement of courses and broader curricular missions by supporting extended, multi-dimensional arts residencies that combine pedagogy, public presentation, and informal exchange among artists, faculty, students, the wider campus, and area communities.
Prof. Smithey and his colleague, Prof. Gregory Maney (Hofstra University), have been studying the changing mural arts scene in Northern Ireland. The Mural Mapping Project uses geographic information systems (GIS) technology and statistical and qualitative methods of inquiry to analyze murals and other ethnic and political displays in West Belfast and the Greater Shankill Road area, such as memorial gardens, monuments, sculptures, and other forms of public art.
Though Mr. Craig has a burgeoning fine art career, with exhibitions in Northern Ireland, Great Britain, and California, Mr. Craig’s residency will focus on his community and mural art and will provide an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to explore the role that public art can play in framing public issues and collective identities. An exhibit of Mr. Craig’s mural art will appear in McCabe Library. He will offer public talks, paint a mural on Swarthmore’s campus, and visit classes at each of the Tri-college campuses.
Students who would like to engage the residency from an academic perspective and for course credit can register for SOCI 025B, “Transforming Intractable Conflict” at Swarthmore.
Stay tuned as more details will be announced in this blog.